Sunday, July 25, 2010

Disconnect To Reconnect


Sometimes it pays to take a break.

Sometimes you just have to put all your internet devices aside – and focus on the people who mean the most to you. Those physical bodies that reside in your residence, sleep in your beds, and eat their food with you at the dinner table.

Your family.

I did so this last vacation week. Well, not voluntarily – not at first anyway.

You see, my common habit is to spend my free time in the summer out on the back deck with my two little girls and my lovely wife Darlene…

…. and my laptop.

And as the girls play in the pool and Darlene puttered around the yard, I would sit here my in favorite position of shaded patio deck table by the pool, and be on the internet.

I would be sitting here writing a story for Headstuffing. And I would be sitting here talking with friends on Facebook. And I would be sitting tweeting with friends and other bloggers on Twitter. And I would be sitting here following Tigers baseball games pitch by pitch on MLB.com.

And I thought I was spending good quality time with my family.

I thought I was spending quality family time in the physical presence of my lovely wife Darlene, and my daughters Alannah and Ashley-Rae.

But in reality my body was here, but my mind was far away.

Far away in the words I was writing in Headstuffing.

Far away with my friends I was talking to in Facebook.

Far away with my friends and blogging gang I hang out with on Twitter.

Far away tracking the play by play of the Tigers baseball game.

I was here body with my family. But my mind was in faraway places like Australia, France, England, and the southern states of the U.S.

It's not that my friends on Facebook and Twitter aren't real people – and real friends. But my family really wanted to spend the week with me. Not just the big lump of a body sitting at the table – they wanted ME.

My companionship.

My attention.

Quite often, Alannah and Ashley-Rae would climb out of the pool and come over and ask me to play in the pool with them.

"In a second", I would respond. "I'm almost done".

"Daddy, NOW ….", would pout Ashley-Rae. Alannah would reach for the screen on the laptop and push it down to close it.

Last week my Mother arrived from Pensacola to stay for several weeks. And last weekend we had a birthday party for Ashley-Rae. And most of the morning while everyone was rushing around to prepare for the party – I spent most of the morning on the deck with the laptop.

I wasn't really much help.

And I was told about it.

After the party concluded, my laptop was nowhere to be found. And my iPhone was missing.

"Where is my stuff?!!", I bellowed.

"You don't need it this week", calmly replied my lovely wife Darlene.

"Huh?"

"You are off for a week now – and this week you WILL spend with your family", replied my lovely wife – her face now red – her expression held that "do not question me on this decision" attitude pouring all over it.

So I shut up.

And I spent the week off line.

And I went through some withdrawal symptoms.

I woke up in the mornings that week coming out to the back patio with a cup of coffee for a morning smoke – but no laptop. No morning status updates on Facebook. No morning tweets on Twitter. No morning readings of the news and no commenting on blogs from my favorites like Pat Caputo's Sports "An Open Book" blog.

I fell out of touch with everyone. Everyone not in my house.

But, I fell IN touch with everyone who actually slept under my roof.

I actually spent my morning coffee times listening to what my lovely wife Darlene was saying.

She is actually quite interesting.

And I spent morning coffees talking with my daughters about what they wanted to talk about.

And they are actually very interesting little girls.

And I spent the morning coffees talking with my own Mum, who I hadn't seen in over a year and a half.

And do ya know, she is pretty interesting too.

On Friday our best friends from Dublin, Ireland arrived. We drove over the border to the Detroit airport to pick them up. It was a weird experience as we left the airport with Tornado warnings sprang up on both sides of the border – and a rainbow that stretched from one end of the horizon to the other – a fitting tribute to the landing leprechauns sitting in the back seat.

And when we arrived home, again I noticed how just how incredibly interesting both Ray and Shell are.

And they did fly over from Dublin.

And they were sitting on my very special back deck – from where I speak to the world.

By the end of the week, I had pretty much recovered from my internet addiction.

Because as much as I love using the internet to talk to the world, it seemed like the conversation at my patio table had become ever increasingly more interesting.

In fact, the world seems to be coming to visit me.

2 comments:

LordGU said...

Thank you for this one, Fred!
When I read the first time, it made me smile. Then I felt the urge to read it again. And it made me think. A lot.
It is somewhat sad yet very true that we, and I am talking about people like you and me (and maybe the valued reader too) now, that we tend to sacrifice quite a huge amount of time we are awake and conscious on the altar of modern interconnectedness.
It is the real life around us and the real persons that surround us we, by tendency, take for granted without further thinking, thus investing fewer and fewer time and attention in what really makes up a life, our life. So, a break, just like the one you described in your update, may be exactly the one thing we need now and then.
Good to hear you survived the withdrawal!

Fred Brill said...

LordGU,

I think you hit the nail right on the head. Thanks!

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